Mobile Apps for Chennai Suburban and MRTS Trains

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I love traveling by train, but I have never been a frequent traveler on the Chennai Suburban and Mass Rapid Transport System (MRTS) trains. I have used the suburban trains occasionally and the MRTS very rarely. However, I have fond memories of traveling in suburban trains during childhood to my aunt’s house in Thirunenravur. I have traveled on the Chennai Central-Sulurpet route couple of times during my first job. That train crosses a backwater near Minjur. It was so lovely to see fishermen in their boats during sunrise and sunset there. The reflections of the lights at a factory near the backwater were beautiful at night.

On the MRTS route, the view of the Marina beach from the train is something I love to see again and again. During college and early working years, I used to travel mostly by bus. That changed after I got a bike and then a car. These days I rarely use the bus.

Last Sunday, my wife and I had to travel to Korattur, which is at the north-western side of Chennai. Having moved closer to my office, which is at the south-eastern side, Korattur is just too far. My wife suggested that we travel by train, instead of bike or car. We weren’t sure of the train timings because we aren’t frequent users. Moreover, we thought the train timings are different on Sundays. That’s when I thought of checking if there are any mobile apps for these trains. I was happy to see many Android apps on the Google Play Store for these trains. I choose to use two apps – ‘Chennai MRTS’ and ‘Chennai Suburban Train Timings’.

Chennai MRTS App
The Chennai MRTS app has a simple interface with four options. You can plan for a trip by specifying ‘From’ and ‘To’ locations, view the schedule of each train route, view the train fare or mark a route as your favorite. The Trip Planner lists the trains available based on the locations and time information you provide. It even displays the time required for changing trains in your route.

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Chennai MRTS app interface (left) and Trip Planner screen (right)

The Train Schedule displays the weekday’s schedule of the route you choose. It displays options to view the Sunday schedule or the schedule in the reverse direction of your chosen route. Currently, it contains the schedule of six routes only, but I am sure others will be added in the subsequent updates.

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Train Schedule screen (left) and Timings of a chosen route (right)

Chennai Suburban Train Timings App
The Chennai Suburban Train Timings app works offline, which means you can view train information without internet connection. But, you need to ensure to keep the app up-to-date. Its interface is more user-friendly and displays more information than the previous app. It has two options – Search and Schedule. The Search option lets you search based on route, source, and destination. This app contains information of almost all the suburban and MRTS train routes.

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Search screen (left) and Route names (right)

The Schedule option lets you to view the timings of each route, but it displays more information. It displays the stop number of each station in the route and the number of kilometers of each station from the source location in addition to the standard information.

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Schedule screen (left) and Details of a chosen route (right)

These two apps helped us to plan our travel better and faster. We hardly spent any time waiting at the stations. The journey was smooth. The Velachery-Beach route was lovely with fewer crowds because of Sunday. The Park Town-Korattur route was crowded, but it is in these crowded trains you meet people from all walks of life. Also, I find people selling their merchandize in these trains very enterprising and evolved over time. Books and magazines have been replaced by Smartphone covers and scratch guards. While the usual snacks vendors are still surviving, I was surprised to see a woman selling hot idlis!

These apps will be useful for occasional users like me and for people new to the city. If you have used any of these apps or find other apps better than these, I request you to share your experience in the comments.

 

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